Detail image of a devotional alabaster

Art and Devotion in Medieval England

MDVL 6000
Spring 2012


Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Institute of Arts

The Venerable Bede reports in his Ecclesiastical History that Saint Augustine and his fellow missionaries from Rome entered the city of Canterbury in 597 bearing “in accordance with their custom . . . an image of our great king and lord, Jesus Christ.” Encompassing the period from Augustine’s entry into Canterbury to the Reformation, this seminar examines the Christian art of medieval England, focusing on the role of images in communal worship and personal piety through an examination of both works of visual art and the written record. Touchstones include defenses of and challenges to the appropriateness of religious images and the following classes of object: stone crosses, illuminated Gospel books, illustrated saints’ lives, illuminated devotional books, and decorated rood screens. The class makes an in-depth study of the Holkham Bible Picture Book, one of the most enigmatic objects of Christian art to survive from medieval England, and the selection of devotional alabaster sculptures on exhibition at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in 2012.

Prerequisites: none, but an elementary knowledge of Latin is assumed